'In the Picture': The Return of Cinerama
|Read more at|
The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: Johan
C.M. Wolthuis, International 70mm Publishers, The Netherlands.
Strohmaier and 3-strip slate. Image by Tom March
In the early fifties a revolutionary 'This is Cinerama' premiered on the
evening of September 30, 1952 in the
Broadway Theater in New York, causing
gigantic queues on the pavement before the theatre!
Exactly 60 years later on September 30, 2012 a new 3-strip Cinerama
"In the Picture"
premiered at the ArcLight
Cinerama Dome on
Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. It was the fulfilment of a dream for Cinerama
Strohmaier from Los Angeles, since he started the research on a
documentary. Already at the age of six David 's father took him to
the Ambassador Cinerama Theatre in St Louis to see 'Seven
Wonders of the World', some years later followed by a visit to 'How
The West Was Won'.
These cinema visits as a young boy were the start of his admiration for
Cinerama! He started in 1997 with the research and spent the next five years
(!) happily supported by his wife to locate film prints, cameras and
projectors. This all resulted in 2002 with his documentary 'Cinerama
Adventure' a very interesting video film of 96 minutes, about the history of
Cinerama. The making of this documentary introduced him to all aspects of
the Cinerama heritage and so he also got involved in the restoration of old
Cinerama films. But it took ten years before his dream to make a new
Cinerama film, became reality with the support of
John Sittig from ArcLight
Cinemas and Pacific Theatres, owners of Cinerama, who wanted to organise
something special for
Cinerama's60th anniversary in September 2012.
|More in 70mm reading:|
Member Johan Wolthuis (The Netherlands)
In The Picture - Tom Down Under
of 3-strip film. Click image to see enlargement
However, as you can imagine, it was very difficult to find an original
camera that had been stored for fifty years and now had to be renovated to
produce a new film. In 1962 the original cameras were used for the last time
with the filming of 'How the West Was Won'. It required a lot of work to
modify an old Cinerama camera, but thanks to the cooperation of a lot of
enthusiastic people all with their own knowledge, among them
cinematographers John Hora, ASC and Douglas Knapp, SOC, all wanting to be
part of this unique historical project, that finally started in January 2012
under the inspiring leadership of director/editor David Strohmaier.
'In the Picture' had its European premiere on April 27, 2013, half a year
after the Hollywood premiere, during the
Widescreen Festival Weekend in
Bradford, UK in the beautiful Pictureville Cinema, which is part of the
National Media Museum and the only theatre in Europe with facilities to
screen original Cinerama films.
Principal photography for 'In the Picture' was done between January and
April 2012 in Los Angeles because of the small budget, which didn't allow
them to travel outside the city. Film scenes include the Griffith Park
Observatory, overlooking the 'City of Angels' from the hills, the Hollywood
Heritage Museum, a merry-go-round at Griffith Park and driving around the
boulevards of Los Angeles. The story follows a middle aged couple (Stanley
and Paula Livingstone) showing a younger couple (Elizabeth Dominiguez and
Matthew Brewbaker) around Los Angeles and meanwhile talking about their
memories of Cinerama.
star Debbie Reynolds, who played Aunt Lillith in 'How the West Was Won' in
1962. Image by Tom March
The final images of the film were shot on board the brigantine 'Exy Johnson'
a sailing vessel made available by the TopSail Youth Program Organisation.
They spend two days on board this ship and another day on a sister vessel to
shoot images of the two couples on the 'Exy Johnson'. These were the
ultimate shots of the film as they reminded us of the classic Cinerama/Cinemiracle
film "Windjammer" from 1958! For David Strohmaier this was a heavy kind of
improvisation, because he had no chance to storyboard these scenes, as he
had no idea how it all would work nor had he any experience filming on a
sailing vessel! But despite all these problems the images were really
touching! The last days of shooting were in the Cinerama Dome and they were
very lucky to meet with famous film star Debbie Reynolds, who played Aunt
Lillith in 'How the West Was Won' in 1962.
She was born on 1 April 1932, so is already 81 year on this planet! After
filming Debbie in the lobby, with fans all around her, the crew finally went
inside the Dome's auditorium to shoot some scenes of the two star couples
from the film watching their own acting projected on the giant Cinerama
The processing of 'In the Picture' was done by FotoKem laboratories in
Burbank, just north of Los Angeles. The crew was able to screen the dailies
in the Cinerama Dome during the time of production together with people from
FotoKem. These were often chaotic days having to solve all the problems of
sharpness and misframing. Strohmaier had also set up a digital video camera
to shoot the projected dailies from the screen, as this was the only way for
him to watch the scenes at home and to work out the difficult editorial
decisions. But the resulting new 3-strip Cinerama film with a screening time
of 26 minutes was amazing and a great accomplishment for David Strohmaier
and his enthusiastic team! Hope to see it next year April for the second
time in Bradford during the Widescreen Weekend in the unique Pictureville
|Go: back - top - back issues - news index